Spring (Apr-Jun) Quarter Cookbooks of the Month: ZAHAV and ISRAELI SOUL

Welcome to the reporting thread for one of our Spring Quarter 2024 COTMs, ZAHAV: A World of Israeli Cooking and ISRAELI SOUL: Easy, Essential, Delicious by Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook.

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To report on a recipe, put the name of the recipe in ALL CAPS and include the page number, if it’s available to you. If you are the first to post about a recipe, please reply to this post. If someone has already posted about the recipe, reply to their post so all the posts about each recipe are linked for easy reference.

To respect the author’s copyright, please don’t post photos or verbatim copies of recipes. Links to recipes online are welcome, and you may post ingredients and summarize instructions in your own words.

5-MINUTE HUMMUS WITH QUICK TEHINA SAUCE - Israeli Soul, p. 145

This is a weeknight version of the hummus in Zahav, using canned chickpeas. I actually prefer this version, because in Zahav, Solomonov calls for cooking chickpeas with baking soda, which I think negatively impacts the final product. The thing that stands out about both recipes is the quanity of tahini involved, and that is something I heartily agree with. Unless you are opening a hummus stand, I would suggest halving this recipe, so you’ll use just one can of chickpeas and 1 cup (yes, a whole cup) of tehini. Solomonov has you make this in a food processor, which might work great, but my food processor is not a very good one, so I opted for the Vitamix. If you wish to do the same, I would recommend just making the tehini sauce to start the recipe in a bowl with a whisk - that’s actually easier than getting it to blend. Microplane the garlic if you do this. Then add both tehini sauce and chickpeas to the Vitamix and blend. I didn’t do it that this time, but that’s how I’ve done it in the past and how I would do it in the future. I’m gonna add a little nitpick right here and say that the instruction for the chickpeas to be drained and rinsed just irks the hell out of me. The is no reason to rinse them, it’s just silly, and I don’t know why authors keep putting that useless (and often detrimental) instruction in their books. Drain them and save the aquafaba (I freeze it).

Anyway, this is excellent hummus. Shown here with the zucchini and radish salad from p. 186, and dill tabbouleh from p. 195.

dill_tabbouleh_radish_zucch_hummus_Israeli_Soul

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RADISH AND ZUCCHINI SALAD WITH MINT AND NIGELLA SEEDS - Israeli Soul, p. 186

Please, for the love of deliciousness, do not overlook the salad sections in this book or Zahav. They are full of little dishes you can whip up in no time that will add a lot to your meal. For this salad, you just grate a couple zucchini, julienne some radishes, chop up a handful of mint, and season with nigella seeds, and a modest amount of lemon juice, oil, and salt. So easy, and a love flavor. Pictured above with the hummus.

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DILL TABBOULEH - Israeli Soul, p. 195

Three recipes in and I’m reminded of just how good this book is. Bulgur is out for me, so I used quinoa instead, and ended up using a more than a 1:1 replacement. So my proportions were a bit off, but it didn’t matter. You are to rehydrate bulger (if you can eat bulgur), chop up a whole lotta dill and lesser amount of onion. Dress with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt.

This riff on tabbouleh is a revelation. I don’t know if I’ll ever make the classic version again, this one is so good. Worth the price of the book. And so easy. Harder for me because I had to cook quinoa, but I employed my rice cooker to good effect for that. Even then a super easy weeknight dish and a smash hit at casa de Mel. Pictured upthread with hummus.

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JERUSALEM GRILL RICE PILAF WITH PINE NUTS - p. 129

This dish is a riff on dirty rice, which is a nostalgic food for me. It calls for chicken hearts, livers, and thighs, so I had a bit of conversion to do to make it vegan. Tempeh has an earthy flavor that verges on liver-y, so I used it in place of the hearts and liver. Daring chicken stood in for the thigh meat. I changed the method a little to best suit the ingredients I was using, and maximize efficiency. Sliced onions are caramelized on their own and then set aside. I actually did this while the rice was cooking in the oven. Toasted pine nuts are called for at the end of the recipe, so I threw my pine nuts in with the onion for the last half of their cooking time, and they browned nicely. For the meats, I minced the tempeh, and browned in it a skillet, then stirred in half of the seasonings (which are turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, baharat, and cinnamon). I deglazed with a splash of tamari, and moved the tempeh to a plate. I then browned the Daring chicken in the same skillet, and tossed with the other half of the seaonings. In a Dutch oven, I sautéed the rice, added the “meats”, then water and salt. Note on the salt: The recipe calls for 1.5 tablespoons, which is probably the right amount if you are using Diamond Crystal. I was use Real Salt, which is more dense, so cut it back to 1 tablespoon, and the seasoning was perfect. Note on the water: the recipe calls for 4 cups, which I think is too much. I used 3 cups, and it was, imho, the right amount. The covered pot then goes into the oven for half an hour to cook. When it’s done, you top with the caramelized onions, pine nuts, and some cilantro.

This was absolutely delicious. Reminiscent of dirty rice, but also something completely different. I cut the cinnamon back from 1 tsp to 1/2 tsp, because I don’t like over-cinnamon-y savory dishes. I thought the seasoning was perfect. I should also note that my baharat was not the one from this book, it was the version in Arabesque that I already had made up. Served with some leftover zucchini/radish salad.

Jerusalem_grill_pilaf_Israeli_Soul

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OPERA BEAN SOUP - Israeli Soul, p. 234

This recipe has a 4-hour cooking time, but I actually was saving it for a busy night. I was called out on a sheep rescue on Sunday, and it was an overnight trip. I got home very tired and very underfed Monday afternoon, with a list of follow-up tasks, and had to tend to the work in the pottery studio that I stashed into damp boxes when I got called out. So no way was I making an involved dinner. This dish had very simple prep, and I figured the Instant pot could save me from the long cook and having to babysit a pot on the stove.

So here is how it went: You are supposed to soak beans overnight. That didn’t happen, but I generally don’t soak beans. The only vegetable prep is dicing an onion and slicing some garlic. Those get sautéed, and I did that right in the IP. You then toss in a couple serrano peppers that have had holes poked in them, a pound of beans, some smoked paprike, and a combination of tomato juice and water. I wanted to reduce the liquid to account for being in the IP, so I cut only the water in half, and used the full amount of tomato juice. Salt is supposed to be added halfway through, but I added it from the get-go, as I always do. Now to set a cook time… The acid in the tomato juice would tend to keep the beans firm, which is reflected in the four-hour stovetop time in the recipe. So I upped from what I would usually use for these beans and went with 1 hour and 15 minutes. At the end of that time I let the pot naturally release for 15 minutes, then did a quick release.

The cook time was spot on, the beans were tender, but all still intact. You finish the soup with some lemon juice and more salt if needed (it was needed), and garnish with cilantro. This is the first dish from this book that wasn’t a hit for me. I love beans, and can happily eat them just plain if they are well-seasoned, so I hate to say that the soup was too simple, but that was my first impression. Upon reflection, I think the tomato juice just wasn’t doing it for me. Also, I like to put lots of salt in from the get-go, so the beans are seasoned throughout. These were undersalted during cooking, and adding salt at the end doesn’t really fix that. I can think of tweaks I would make if I were to make this again, but I’ll be honest and admit I’m not going to make it again. I have too many great bean soups in my repertoire to waste time fixing this one.

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This is intriguing, to say the least.

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I’ve been doing farm animal rescue for almost a decade. It takes a team of people to pull off a rescue, the most important being the person or people who provide a forever home for the animal. My role is to remove the animal from whatever situation they are in and get them to that home, or to veterinary care, which was the case this time. The sheep didn’t make it, but at least she had a chance.

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That is amazing! And I am sure heart-breaking at times. I have a neighbor with very large pastures who is providing a forever home for all kinds of animals. It is always interesting driving by and seeing who has come to live there now. I am glad farm animals have you and your team members there for them!! And thank you for gratifying my curiosity!

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